Things to Cross off the Hyperhidrosis List

Hyperhidrosis in action:
Hyperhidrosis in action:
Dripping fingers of sweat, induced by a polite telephone conversation.

Hyperhidrosis is like a super human power. Think of it a mutation that makes the body sweat uncontrollably. It is not induced by gamma rays, rather it is the result of an overactive sympathetic nervous system – working beyond the normal.

As it is considered a conditioning of the body, there is no identifiable cause for hyperhidrosis. Diagnosis is made only by the observation of abundant sweating at the armpits, palms and feet; and also sweating of the face, chest, thighs or back may be noticeable.

Normally sweating helps cool down the body in response to a heated situation, like external temperature or the body rushing in activity or from anxiety (the fight or flight response). However, due to the excess of sweat a hyperhidrosis sufferer doesn’t gain benefit from their sweat. Rather they wish for it to stop, and usually avoid social or other action that might provoke perspiration.

There is no proven cure to hyperhidrosis. Most recommended treatments attempt to block the sweating, and are often intended for other conditions – sweat reduction actually being a side-effect.

I have tested a lot of the treatments, and my findings are here:

Antiperspirants (extra strong)

Designed to work by blocking sweat glands. The high aluminium content (and other ingredients) of strong antiperspirants can be effective for underarm perspiration, but fail in most other areas. The intensity of the active ingredients can cause a piercing sensation, akin to needles being inserted into the skin, as the ingredients attempt to block the sweat glands. Useful, depending on your situation.

Medications

Some medications can lower the sensitivity of the sympathetic nervous system. In my experience they also have side-effects such as head-aches, tiredness, and a bloating of skin. Depending on the dosage and severity of hyperhidrosis this might be a worthwhile solution.

Botox

The injection of Botox into an area tightens skins cells and prevents sweating. It can be painful, particularly in the feet, and is not permanent. The effect subsides after three to four months, so multiple treatments are required, and with continual use the effectiveness reduces. It can be an expensive treatment, as costs can exceed $1,000 (Aus) per visit. This does work, and may suit some sufferers.

ETS Surgery

To stop sweating the nervous system of the body can be operated on. The idea is to sever ties to glands and ensures dry areas. Surgery is always a last option in any situation. Aside from compensatory sweating, where the body diverts sweat inducing hormones to other areas, the procedure is not recommended as a solution for feet sweaters.

Powder treatments

Like antiperspirants, powder treatments are designed to stop the sweating at the “coal face”. The best practice is to apply the powder minutes before the sweating starts. This is very hard for most sufferers to judge as heavy perspiration can occur without warning. Not a recommended practice.

Sage tea

A natural remedy aimed at reducing body heat and so preventing the need for body sweating. I have found this completely ineffective, though nice to drink.

Foot baths

Sage tea, among other types,  is recommended as a foot bath, theoretically drying out the skin and plugging the glands. This, in my experience, does not work. Best to drink the stuff and only then for drinking enjoyment.

Acupuncture

As hyperhidrosis is associated to anxiety, acupuncture has been recommended to relax the body. The acupuncture I received was relaxing, but had no impact on my hyperhidrosis.

Avoid specific foods

Hot and spicy foods are best avoided as they heat the body, and once sweating starts it is hard to stop. Chocolate also, due to the coca, can make the body sweat, and alcohol and garlic have also been accused of inducing sweat – though I have little personal proof of this. Recommended to test foods and diet upon personal results and preference.

Drink heaps of alcohol

Yes, drying the body internally and placing it in a relaxed state with alcohol consumption can reduce/stop sweating. The practice is not recommended over a prolonged period (or as a treatment at all really). Other medical risks are involved with alcohol consumption, and (as mentioned above) alcohol can cause the sweating in some people. It is worth avoiding alcohol to see how your body reacts.

Change clothing

In my experience sweat begets sweat, so drying the body with fresh clothing can stop sweating. It is recommended to have a change of clothing and to use this clothing whenever sweating becomes a personal or professional issue. Even if only to feel dry for a short period. Highly recommended.

Stacking

A theory that involves combining treatments to stop the sweating of various body parts. This does not treat the cause, and is limited by the effectiveness of each treatment used.

Iontophoresis

By sending a mild electric shock through the skin of the hands and feet, nerve endings can be disrupted and sweating slowed/stoped briefly. Identified for use on hands and feet only. I have not tested this. Best conducted with a trained doctor before buying a home kit.

What to do in the Future:

I recall working in a warehouse, where the ambient temperature was controlled. In this stable environment I had reduced hyperhidrosis symptoms. Body temperature seems to be a key. This is further endorsed by my experiences with exercise, where I have noticed little sweating even at high intensity– this is perhaps due to deep and controlled breathing maintaining core temperature.

As anxiety is the third cause of sweat, it might be considered that a form of anxiety attack is causing the brain to “forget to breathe”. These attacks might be caused by plain situations, such as answering a telephone call or driving a car, and as such are hard to anticipate and gauge.

As a hyperhidrosis-body is sensitive to temperature change, shallow breathing from an anxiety attack, however slight, might be enough to trigger sweating. Sweating that will become profuse, and compounded with embarrassment.

Come Winter, when ambient temperature is lower and more manageable, I intent to try yoga. The theory is that it will teach good breathing techniques, aiming to make the body cope better with stress/anxiety. The core temperature may then remain constant, and sweating avoided.

(ps: I will also consider how cold temperature causes sweat for a hyperhidrosis suffer. The theory being that as the body warms itself to raise the core temperature, this provokes the nervous system to begin sweating.)

(pps: please comment if you have any corrections, suggestions or additions to the above text. Thanks.)

Further reading:

http://www.sweathelp.org/en/where-do-you-sweat/sweaty-feet.html

http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/beauty/botox–the-right-way-20090528-boa5.html

http://www.curesweatypalms.com/Hyperhidrosis.htm

http://www.sweathelp.org/en/hyperhidrosis-treatments/iontophoresis

http://www.anxietyaustralia.com.au/anxiety_disorders.shtml

http://scholar.google.com.au/scholar?as_q=hyperhidrosis+cause&as_epq=&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_occt=any&as_sauthors=&as_publication=&as_ylo=2010&as_yhi=2012&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5